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How do I pick the best college summer program for high school students?

QUESTION: I'm a junior thinking about attending a summer program at Duke University. Will attending the summer program increase my chances of getting into Duke in any way? What other summer programs do you recommend? Signed, Duke Hopeful

Dear Duke Hopeful: For most students, summer means a break from school and time to hit the beach. But for those who want to get a head start on the college experience, summer is the time to attend a college program for high school students. These programs usually allow you to attend college-level courses with other high school and even college students.

As you are considering how to spend your summer, remember that the Duke summer program is not a ticket into Duke as a college student. However, it can affect your chances of getting into Duke or any other college because it demonstrates that you are serious about academics and have a real passion for learning. Many programs allow you the opportunity to live on campus, which also shows colleges that you are mature enough to make the transition from high school to college.

Several colleges offer these kinds of programs including Harvard, Stanford and Berkeley. One of the best we've seen is the Telluride Association Summer Program. If you are accepted into this program, you also receive a full scholarship covering tuition, room, board and books on the Cornell campus. Find out more information at

To find the best program, ask yourself questions such as: Which program has the classes that best match what you want to study? Are classes taught by professors or graduate students? What social activities are offered? Will you live on campus or off? How much does the program cost? Then, get ready for an enriching summer and your first taste of college.

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Gen & Kelly Tanabe

Gen and Kelly Tanabe are the founders of SuperCollege and the award-winning authors of 11 books on college admission, financial aid and scholarships. Together they were accepted to all of the Ivy League colleges and won more than $100,000 in merit-based scholarships to graduate from Harvard debt-free.